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  CSPAN    Politics Public Policy Today    News/Business.  

    December 25, 2012
    1:00 - 5:59am EST  

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read what the politics of it were. you can watch the entire film and again everyone has their own view of it and being the man who -- actually the film is about a c.i.a. agent who is working in iraq disappears and nobody knows where he is. he hops up in a mall in america and gives himself up and when he's brought in he says that he's converted to become a muslim and has put these bombs around the place. then sam jackson's character comes in and using torture and the whole film is about me being tortured by sam jackson and pushing you to see how far everybody concerned is prepared to go to get the information out of him. it was an incredibly difficult film to make for me. i remember one of the first days
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of the torture thing which is is something where i was chained to the ceiling and hosed down with water with fans blowing on me. and i said how are we going to do this and they said we're going to do it but not for very long. that set up a precedent for the hole film. that was a very frightening thing to go through. a point you brought up which is the idea that people's desire to be involved in helping the imaging of this completely depends on what they believe is how they are being portrayed in it. and that gets very complicated. >> it's a public they report they are trying to not to get in trouble.
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there are agencies who are better or less. >> i think mueller believed in the idea which he sort of watched the c.s.i. effect. c.s.i. created more interest in people going into coronaries forensic seasons and that college programs couldn't go fast enough to put people through and he had watched that and realized as the f.b.i., wanted to make being an f.b.i. agent cool. that was a recruiting vehicle. that was his interest. and john miller who ran public affairs with him for a long time and was a high ranking public affairs guy and had come out of television and has gone back to television and understood it.
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and even with the best of intentions, there was enormous tension the whole way through. if we're going to do modern television people are going to watch there are going to have to be character flaws, there was conversation over drinking and smoking and sex and what kind of sex and where and when and how. and they had the best of intentions and i was direct with them going in. and i would say that was the best experience. >> but ultimately the show didn't work. >> it wasn't quite original enough. and as crazy as kerri mathison as she is, as psychologically damaged. i do believe that kerri mathison makes the c.i.a. sexy. it makes it a sexy place to work and interesting place to work
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and i bet it would net a -- despite all of her personal problems and i think somebody should ask that question of the c.i.a. what has happened in the last six months of their recruiting. >> they realize this but it would be hard for any government agent to say i'm going to support a buy polar agent who is sleeping with an as lamb i can radical. >> in some ways it highlights those things more in terms of one person. through the whole journey of frost nixon, his relationship which garn in a small theater in london, then broadway, then a movie.
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the very first preview performance of frost nixon in a theater in london, the entire back row was lawyers, the third preview david there was having been given the all clear or told you should go see it yourself and he was shaken by it to begin w. for a man who is incredibly generous and warm and positive and supportive of everything, i think he felt very confused by how he should react to this. and as the whole thing went on as it started to become clear this was going to be a massive hit in terms of the play and the theater version of it, he started to get behind it because he's a very good business man and he started to go, well, okay, there is a certain amount of this i don't believe actually happened and is not true and we have someone in the audience who knows a lot more about it but i think he made a judgment call which was and i think this is the same
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with the agencies whoever is working on it and who is being represented, are we going to get more good, he was never going to be able to control how he was portrayed in it and i'm sure if the f.b.i. and c.i.a. and military could control it, i'm sure they would. but it's a give and take. the difficult thing from an autistic point of view, how much are you being compromised in the story you want to tell. what was interesting for us at one point that david famously had gone to the premiere of a film that he was a producer of the night before he did his interview with nixon and he was criticized about it. on the premiere of frost nixon he was interviewing blair the
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next day. he interviewed blair and managed to get out of that on the admission that the iraq war was a disaster that nobody got. he learned something. that is an interesting give and take with the whole thing. >> so we heard this afternoon or this morning from a senior saudi arabian television official that he felt television programming through the 70's and 1980's had a positive effect on diplomacy. how do you think the world outside viewing shows like "homeland" and "24," have you heard anything at all? >> "24" and "homeland" are popular not just in germany and u.k. but in jordan and turkey. "24" is a huge hit in iran.
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it's beamed in illegally by -- you're not getting paid for it? >> no. but i do think. >> but it's smuggled in a lot. the actor is persian and has a lot of connections in iran and he's been tracking "homeland" in iran. >> it is stunningly popular but i've read a few criticisms of the show and to the extent that we make piss people off on every side of the aisle and are embraced by them too is a good thing. one thing i did learn is that as an export, as a public face, we do have some responsibility,
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some influence on -- this is an american export and we are good at this. we make really good movies and television shows. it is what the world sees of us. and there was a book by a researcher at the gallop organization and they polled people in egypt what is your feeling about americans. i don't like america but i like americans. and a very small percentage had never met an american. and they said how dow know and the answer was "friends". >> based on that i like america too. >> politics demonizes and culture humanizes and you
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create some essential truth about tony blair. you have to love him at some point. >> this is an important thing in the case of the things i've been involved in which are based on real people and real events, in the case of "homeland" and "24" it's not based on actual things that have happened but the responsibility of how you portray this kind of thing. >> i'm quite annoying to howard because i think i'm the one person connected to "homeland" who grew up in d.c. so i obsess on tine details like m street is not a one way street, it goes both ways. >> but on the details that aren't so specific. i think you get enough of those details right that people can buy into the show.
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barack obama is not watching the show because it's a brilliant portrayal of the c.i.a. it gets enough of the details what it feels like to be in those situations. i have no idea why i like the show -- the think it's less about details. michael described it as it's not a palemic and i think audiences smell propaganda but if you can introduce the complexity of what they do. "24" was not about a good choice and bad choice but the better of two bad choices. if there was a formula of "24" that would have been it. and i think these people saw and president obama sees as well there is something about the
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presentation of the complexity of some of the things that people who are charged with these jobs have to deal with. writing it and imagining it makes me glad it's not my job just imagining how tough some of these decisions must be makes you grateful. >> the verse that we show in frost nixon "the queen" and that is how much responsibility you take with that, especially when art itself is working in metaphors. when people ask me about there is a pivot al scene in "frost nixon" which never happened. how could you show that because that is a pivotal moment in the
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piece. and the same with "the queen," that never happened. nixon did used to make phone calls and a part of his research would be times he was on heavy medication at time and would make phone calls at times he wouldn't remember. his staff were told if the president calls you during the middle of the night stay on the phone, he will eventually fall asleep you put down the phone and never mention it. if it was a ballet of frost nixon, is it a valuable argument to say frost never sached around nixon? it's not a documentary. so it's more about -- i think an audience response on a whole as to the complexity of something. the's a balancing act of facts.
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i watched "argo" the other day and one of the things i was unclear about was the most exciting part of it was something that didn't actually happen. it's an interesting question to talk about it how much can an entertainment rely on things that didn't happen if it is supposed to be based on real events. that is something that with each piece i've been involved with you have to judge along the way. >> talk about your new piece. >> i will be working on a piece about masters and johnson which is about real people and real events. >> a piece about mouse and johnson which has not been done. these conventions of how popular entertainment gets made.
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we do historical pieces but real 20th century figures, they are done in movies, but not done in series so of course a series over the course of however many episodes we end up making we'll take great liberties with historical record. but it will be an interesting -- >> my rule of thumb in terms of playing the individual characters is that as the process goes on, the more i find out about the character and the more research i do and totally immerse myself in their life i will start arguing with the director and say no he wouldn't do that and they say no michael it's a story. you're not doing a documentary,
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it's a story. and when i first come up against the script, i don't know enough at that point to say he didn't do that or this. i have to agree on trust and by gut instinct and as a start finding out more and more. i've found where it does depart from the factual record i still feel like it's portraying the spirit of it. and when people say not every fact is true that you somehow manage to get across something far more complex than if you just showed the facts. something was recently pitched to me about a very prominent public contemporary figures series and i didn't have the guts to do it. it felt somehow wrong to try to
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make a fictional thing. it's one thing to do. maybe that's the line. virginia johnson is alive, masters is not. but their moment of prominence is 1960's, 1970's, 1980's. but i felt uncomfortable doing a tv show based on real people where we were going to fictionalize their lives and not the control ability of a two- hour script and an ongoing script and making up episodes. i wonder if some day that wouldn't be an interesting thing to do, not just this satire of the white house that you get on saturday night live do -- >> not having to do with a major terrorist attack. >> to do the obama story while he's in office. >> which is what you did with tony blair.
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which it takes a lot of balls to do that. >> a film that was in development came to me about jack kennedy and i remember looking at it and it was very much exploring the area of the women and all that kind of stuff. and i was aware that this was such -- because you're now dealing with fact and mythology and dealing with the american psyche and what he represents and the darker side and what it could do and open up, i just thought this is too much for me. and also it has to be handled -- i didn't think that every brodget that's been around, i don't think anyone has been able to hand that will in a way i would feel comfortable getting involved in. because you are opening up a massive can of worms there and
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all the ramifications of it. and the idea of people in high ranking positions and adulterous affairs is still very current. and they would be something valid and exciting about getting involved in exploring that issue but you are starting to tinker with things that are -- you start to wake a dragon and if you don't feel like you have the machine in place to deal with that, then it's like -- it can the danger zone. i remember when i was at drama school and have you acting teachers who think they are qualified to psych analyzing their students. you're starting to mess with people's psyches and have you no power to do it. so i think you have to be careful when you're dealing with that type of subject matter. >> why don't we take a few questions from the audience.
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>> first, where do i apply for an extra for masters and johnson? >> you have to get naked pretty quickly. latch laugh >> now that we got the serious one out of the way. >> why sit offensive to do a film on masters and johnson but okay to make up a phone call on nixon and frost? >> where do you draw the line on making up things for entertainment purposes? >> i think the line is -- i don't mind messing with history, i don't mind intermenting history, creating -- i would feel uncomfortable
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messing with an individual or a group of individuals who making up stuff about them as it's happening. i think there is a distinction and i'm not sure it's a moral distinction but i think you are on shakier ground, sort of clowning somebody out or making up stories on an ongoing basis when somebody is still living and working.
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>> like i said, -- i'm going to speak on behalf of the peter morgan who wrote it but in creating drama you have to find both an entertaining powerful and distillation metaphor for something that stays true to the events and the people involved. so i feel like if you portray someone doing something that is totally out of character to them, that is clearly -- that's where i would draw the line. but in terms of peter coming up with that phone call event which allowed certain things about nixon to be able to come to the floor, certain things about frost to come to the floor, certain things they both did that there was no place for in this whole narrative, it brought things together in a way that didn't cross the line of responsibility of what you show and don't show and somehow it was able to make something more complex in a way.
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the actual events were in some ways less complex in that story and peter found a way to make it more complex and show a vulnerable about nixon and bound him and frost together, the idea of two people who see themselves as outsiders and see reflections of each other and see mirror images of each other, so it created this powerful, dramatic metaphor for something that didn't not happen if you see what i mean. that kind of thing happened and it just created a turning point in the film that the story needed at that point. and for me personally i didn't feel it crossed the line. but it is the one thing that i've been involved in, every film i've been involved in people go what, that didn't happen. and whose responsibility sit to find out the truth.
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i do think for a lot of people the pims we do and tv shows we do are as far as people are going to go in terms of what actually happened. it's not like you can't find out stuff. there is stuff everywhere. so if it causes people to say i'm going to find out more about this, that's great. i'm not sure how much. i don't know how much you can be blamed for well, i thought that was true and it's not. it's up to you to find that out, isn't it? >> particularly when you are dealing with some subjects that are incendiary. 80% of americans found out their medical details from "house." >> my throat hurts, what is that?
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>> but it is something i think every artist, writer, executive in this medium what is my responsibility to the truth and what is my moral legal responsibility? i think those are lines nobody draws but as long as you are asking the questions -- >> we've never asked that question. >> never. >> blair's wife is famously litigious, where you get sued the lawyers are on the phone all the time with all these things. are'm grateful you clarified and said your limits. i want to tell you a story and ask you a question. somebody was at warner brothers at the time when "j.f.k." was being made. there was a shot warner
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brothers wouldn't release. that was right after the assassination in dallas they got to l.b.j. sitting in his office. the phone rings he picks up the phone and somebody says it's done and he hangs up the phone. i was telling that story and said it didn't appear until the film but a student from germany said i saw that scene in germany. if it's in the foreign version and not in the domestic version, i think that says things about americans that will not be easily scrubbed from any mind. make believe does make believe. i'd like your comment on that but i'd like an answer to this question, when a lot of people overseas see an american film
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in which torture is used unrepeated, if there were a case in which somebody felt in effect that i've seen it in american television, i believe it happens, i believe it's okay or they wouldn't show it on television and without license committed torture, would you feel any personal responsibility about that, how would you feel? >> just on the j.f.k. assassination thing. i just read one of stephen king's new books which is about the assassination and a man who has the ability to go back in time and tries to stop the assassination of j.f.k. does that mean we should put a thing on the front and say this didn't happen? at what point is it someone's responsibility to find out whether there is a backing up of that argument. it seems ridiculous when it's
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about time travel because there is no time travel yet. to a lot of people that would be absurd, where is that line? it's a gray area. >> i think the answer to somebody who will look at -- watch "24" and say see didn't i tell you americans are torture mongers. it goes to the old question of what is the effect, what's the cause and what's the effect of art and on public perception and behavior. would i personally feel responsible? i thought about it and i do
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think we all bear some responsibility but not complete responsibility. so somebody who doesn't have a critical capacity to turn on a television and realize this is fiction, this is not a representation, that people will read this as a reflection of american policy or of america is an unfortunate possibility and in some cases i'm sure only underscores preexisting beliefs in any opinion. but i think -- yeah, i don't know what to say except i've thought an awful lot about it and something like "24" was singled out for instance. i think it belongs to a long literature from dirty harry. people were protesting americans. people loved "dirty harry." there was this consequence of events.
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where is the line drawn? by putting masters and johnson are they going to say look at these shameless americans who are promoting wanting sexuality where do you draw the line? >> i feel my duty as an artist like i said right at the beginning, my ultimate responsibility to represent human beings who are three dimensional and are flawed and have gray areas. i have to feel like there isn't one -- i just find it artistically dull for something to be overly politicized. i don't feel like that about the truth. so the characters i portray hopefully i bring that to the character, there is good and bad. i would also need to see that.
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it increases a kind of dignity and respect and understanding for the people involved. this is where i get into gray areas. you agree with his politics? it becomes very difficult. the more you get immersed, the more it is odd to see them as just a politician. my personal responsibility would be to make sure the complexity of each person and the complexity of each situation is explored as fully as possible. >> [inaudible] oliver stone is a master of
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this. i am trying to square his very perceptive about an emotional truth with this something that is emotionally untrue. the same thing, the paranoid theories about fdr being behind pearl harbor. i'm trying to find the roots to this paranoia. i do not like to see paranoia perpetuated.
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>> i agree. the idea of showing lbj on the phone -- it is an artistic failure more than anything else. >> there are questions of taste. is that an interesting artistic choice? is it cheesy? we all face those choices all the time. michael faces those decisions. do i believe it represents some truth? do i think it is cheesy or false? >> there are certain things that decrease the complexity. the lbj it decreases the complexities. it simplifies it in a way that is banal and uninteresting. i think that answers both sides
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of it. from a factual point of view, i see no evidence to back that up. someone could do a film about the theories of 9/11. i guess someone is allowed to make a film about the most ridiculous ideas about 9/11. it would be difficult to do that in a way that was compelling. it would artistically be a failure, i would imagine. if someone can make a brilliant portrayal of the most ridiculous theories about 9/11, i would be amazed. >> over here. >> [inaudible] what was portrayed on the news
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was the truth. we all deal with that with their own children. i look at the question of the world. in america, the criteria [inaudible] what do we already know? that is one standard. we are putting things out into the world. there are many people -- everything that is portrayed about america is the truth. huge damage can be done in the world -- there are unintended consequences.
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huge damage can be done. i do not know how you put it into your arithmetic, into your calculus. >> some people are more thoughtful than others. some artists are more thoughtful than others. i am not the artist. i am one of the gatekeepers. it is something i think about. you areweighing a lot of different things. i do believe that in television, in my experience, the good stuff wins. when i have had success, it was
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something that was interesting and provocative. people are more and more literate. it translates beyond america. it is hard to answer for jack bauer and how he handles a difficult situation as a sole representative of how an american deals with somebody in who has a piece of information. it is a very hard thing to answer. that is a problem with literacy. that is a problem with education. there is an inevitable path of increasing sophistication, the
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amount of information that people can process and the amount of narrative complexity that people can process. it is on an increasing curve. >> i know you are an optimist. >> i am optimistic. look at television in 1968 versus or television is today. look at what the cbs evening newscast from 1974 versus what is happening today. it has become more politicized. the ability to process information has grown. these are issues of education. >> [inaudible] >> right. it is now more obvious. >> there is ongoing battle globally.
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people are putting out ideas. various ways, hidden or not, and value systems for these arguments. that is going on all the time. every single person involved on whatever level in our industry is putting something out there. obviously, you have to take responsibility for it. you try to work out exactly -- you join in a battle. someone else is saying probably the opposite. you have to get in there and do it. other people will not stop and you have to do battle with them. my own feeling is anything that opens up, creates more complexity, because it stops people from coming away from it with a black-and-white argument.
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i am very proud of it. people have totally different interpretations, depending on what their point of view is. it puts the emphasis back on them. it allows the space to allow people to say, i will find out more about that. there is something confusing about complexity. >> there is a question over here. >> i have one comment and two questions. m street is one way. in georgetown. [laughter] >> m street is one way. that was the wrong example. [laughter]
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>> we will not be held accountable. >> it eventually got right in the script. >> you made me think, that is what is important. >> thank you. >> you talked a lot about your interpretation of past history. it is my hunch that "24" affected the future of history by presenting an admirable black president. i would like to know what you think. i have my second question -- [laughter] where did michael buy his socks? [laughter] >> that was my question. >> they were a present.
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from someone with incredible taste. they are british. >> i find it ironic that the notion of that black president, although he was just a presidential candidate in season 1, was created by a republican that probably was not thinking he was paving the way for barack obama. you make interesting choices. >> he has a picture in his office -- it is president obama looking this way. and then there is a portrait of david palmer.
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>> build it, and they will come. if you create the concept of something that was not there before, it creates the possibility. that is the extraordinary power of art. >> president obama and david palmer came from the same ether. it became far more interesting than some white-haired old dude. it did represent fictionally what barack obama represented factually. the best of what america could be. having only emancipated slaves
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100 and something years before could put as its chief executive of black man. it was better drama. >> it was a very deliberate choice. it was a story telling choice. >> it was a more interesting choice. >> trying to create stakes. the assassination would be a national catastrophe. the first african american with a chance for the white house. that is where the choice came from. >> last question. yes? >> [inaudible] i want to circle back about what you said about the saudi ambassador.
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you've already discussed with you think about. what control does you have over the show's going there and being translated, and maybe not the dialogue that you intended? how does that work? according to him, this is a huge influence in how we are viewed. >> it is a distribution -- what control do we have in terms of distribution? >> [inaudible] >> she is asking an artistic question. >> i sent fox has some monitoring. >> that is not the question you are asking.
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>> it is the same. it is either subtitled or dubbed. >> thank you. >> we are doing "24" in india. the fictional prime minister of the country he was a bollywood star. he is playing jack bauer. i do think there is a great opportunity for cultural diplomacy not withstanding the
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hazard that a show like "24" might have had. there is a tremendous power and responsibility. it is good that those of us to do this and create the content are mindful that we have that power. it is easy to get isolated in los angeles. it is a little bit of a twinkie defense to say that it is just a television show. >> as the moderator, i will make one comment. i grew up in the netherlands. there are 19 political parties. they used to buy time. interestingly, in the mid- 1970's, the show's the labor party showed was "all in the family."
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the more conservative party showed "m.a.s.h." you can never really understand how it is going to be manipulated by local agendas and parties. that was my experience. let me ask a last question. aside from things that you have been directly involved with, is there a film or documentary or television show which you think is a great example of what hollywood can mean to public policy and politics? is there a singular documentary film, television show, which stands out to you?
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>> "mr. smith goes to washington." no matter what your politics are, i cannot imagine anyone watching that film not being somehow moved to have a voice. to be able to put a voice to experience and your point of view. i suppose that gets me every time. >> good choice. >> mine was "it's a wonderful life." it was a snapshot of an imagined america. to the extent that was a window
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to the rest of the world, people at their best. >> my reaction was "saturday night live." i love politics, i love the sport of politics. i like satire. >> i am going to cheat and say "12 angry men." >> all of holland came to a stop at 7:00 on monday night. thank you very much.
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>> cinematic columnist george will talks about the relationship between religion and politics. then it james taylor -- james taylor in his recent appearance at the national press club. later, the life of senator robert byrd. >> by the time i was 9 years old, i came down edl was handing out leaflets for robert kennedy. i went to work for john lindsay, but i would not work for him at republican headquarters. i was handing out leaflets on the street corner in new york and a woman thought this is really cute, this little boy handing out leaflets. she asked me why, and i made the case for lindsay. i got an early start on my
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political work consulting career. she said that is so cute. she hands me a box of what looked to be pastry, all white box with string. i took it back to the liberal party headquarters and the open it up, and there were all these donuts and a wad of $10 bills. one of my early lessons in politics. >> tuesday night, david axelrod on his life in journalism and politics. that is followed at 9:30 with all five of new hampshire is all woman delegation. then, growing up at the white house, tuesday evening on c- span. >> george will spoke at washington university in st. louis about the role of religion in politics. the speech was hosted by the
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john danforth center on politics. we will hear from former senator john danforth, just before mr. will speaks. >> finally, it is my honor to introduce senator john danforth, who will introduce mr. will. the senator is a partner with the law firm. he graduated with honors from princeton university, where he majored in religion. he received a bachelor of divinity degree from yale divinity school and a bachelor of laws degree from yale law school. he practiced law for some years and began his political career in 1968 when he was elected attorney general of missouri in his first place for public office. missouri voters elected him to the u.s. senate in 1976.
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they reelected him in 1982 and 1988, for a total of 18 years of service. the senator initiated major legislation in international trade, telecommunications, health care, research and development, transportation, and civil rights. he was later appointed special counsel by janet reno. he later represented the united states as u.s. ambassador to the united nations and served as a special envoy to sudan. he has been a great friend to missouri, st. louis, and washington university. please join me in welcoming him now. [applause] >> thank you.
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thank you very much. i owe our speaker an apology. when you hear the apology, you are going to conclude that i am a really terrible human being. i am the kind of person who takes advantage of a friend, especially a friend who is vulnerable. when he is vulnerable, i pounce. tonight's origin was a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding of victoria will, george's only daughter. george was standing on the edge of the hotel ballroom taking and one of life's great moments. the marriage of the daughter is
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so deeply emotional. george the loving father was clearly caught up in a moment. that was the moment i seized the opportunity to strike. i sidled up to him and whispered ever so softly in his ear, would you mind giving a lecture at washington university? you might ask how anybody could have been so insensitive. after 18 years in the senate, it came naturally. [laughter] george has been a close friend for nearly four decades and it is wonderful to welcome him to st. louis, even if the
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invitation so disgraceful. george will is one of the most recognizable people in america today. certainly, the most widely known intellectual. he is the author of the least a dozen books. since the early days of the show, he has been a regular on what is now "this week with george stephanopoulos." he is an astute philosopher. he is a native of illinois, a student of baseball, a lifelong cubs fan, and as such, he is a man of sorrows and acquainted
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with grief. [laughter] despite their rudeness of the invitation, he is my friend. george well. [applause] >> jack's invitation is perfectly acceptable. my dear friend william f. buckley once called up his friend charleton heston, the actor, and said chuck, do you believe in free speech? he said, of course. he said good, you are about to give one. it is a delight to be back here. it is a delight to be back on campus. long ago and far away, i was a
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college professor. in 1976, two of my friends ran for the senate against each other in new york state. the night they were both nominated, jim buckley got up and said, i look forward to running against professor moynihan.
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jim buckley is referring to you as professor moynihan. what you are in for tonight is an episode of my lapse back into professordom. take notes, there will be a test. in 1953, the year in which the words "under god" were added to the pledge of allegiance, dwight eisenhower proclaimed the fourth of july a national day of prayer. on that day, eisenhower fished in the morning, golfed in the afternoon, and played ridge in the evening. -- bridge in the evening.
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perhaps there were prayers in the us activities. -- these activities. this was not his first foray into the ground between religion and american politics. three days before christmas in 1952, president-elect ike made a speech in which he said, quo"our form of government haso sense unless it is founded in the deeply fought religious space, and i do not care what it is your cu." he received much ridicule for the last part of his statement. for expressing indifference to the religion. it is the first part of the statement that deserves continuing attention. certainly, many americans, perhaps a majority of them,
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agree that democracy, at least our democracy, which is based on the belief in natural rights presupposes a religious faith. people who believe this, as eisenhower did, the declaration of independence, and the proposition that all people are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. but, there are two separate and related propositions that are pertinent to any consideration of the role of religion in american politics. one is an empirical question. is it a fact that the success of a democracy, meaning the success of self-government, requires a religious demos. religious old governing themselves by religious norms. -- religious people governing
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themselves by religious norms. of second is america's stint democracy. a limited government with limits defined by the natural rights of the government. does this entail religious beliefs question mar? i believe that religion has been, and can still be, supremely important and helpful to the flourishing of our democracy. i do not believe it is necessary for good citizenship. regarding the question of our government's logic, i do not think the idea of natural rights requires a religious foundation. or even that the founders uniformly thought so. it is indubitably the case that natural rights are especially grounded when they are grounded in religious doctrine. i come at this large subject a
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bit obliquely. we in journalism are admonished not to bury the lead. we are supposed to put the most important point early on in our story. i will begin rizzoli by postulating the following -- - briskly by postulating the following. --- the decision made in the first decade of the last century about where to locate princeton university's graduate college. princeton's president, woodrow wilson, want to be graduate college located on the main campus. so under graduates and graduate students could mingle. wilson's adversary, dean andrew fleming west, wanted it located where it now is -- a few blocks
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from the main campus. woodrow wilson was a man of serious temperament when he was certain he was right. which was almost always. he took his defeat about the graduate college badly. he went into politics and ruins the 20th century. -- ruined the 20th century. i exaggerate a bit. i do so to make a point. today, and for the past century , american politics has been a struggle to determine which of two princetonians best understood what american politics should be. should we practice the politics of woodrow wilson, of princeton's class of 1879?
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or the teachings of james madison. what has this to do with our topic today? role of something ancient, religion, in something very modern, the american politician. the crux of the difference between the madisonian and the will sony and approach to politics -- wilsonian approach to politics is the following. as i draw the differences between these two, recalls a teacher who asked for a class of eight-year-olds to draw a picture of a whatever each of them chose. as they drew, she circulated among their desks. she paused at the desk of little sally, she asked, what are you drying? -- drawing? sally said, i am drawing a picture of god. the teacher said, nobody knows
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what god looks like. sally said, they will in a minute. [laughter]in 30 minutes or so, you will have a picture of my theory on the role of religion in american politics. i will begin by noting three pertinent peculiarities -- but we owe so much to the generosity of the danforth family. the first is this, i write about politics, primarily to support my baseball habit. i also have the bad taste to mention the chicago cubs, now standing in the belly of the beast. it is cardinals nation. i grew up northeast of here in champaign, illinois. midway between chicago and st. louis.
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and at an age to tender to make life shaping decisions, i had to choose between being a cubs fan and a cardinals fan. all of my friends were cardinal fans been grew up cheerful and liberal. [laughter]i became a gloomy conservative. but not gloomy about the long- term prospects of the american republic, or the role of religion in it. the second peculiarity is this -- america has just had a presidential election. its 57th. one of the major parties did not contend a protestant. this is without precedent. it is especially interesting, because big-ticket, a mormon and a catholic, was put forward by a party that is the choice for the majority of america's
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evangelical protestants. clearly, regarding religion, the times they are a changing. but not in this forward-looking and forward leaning nation. the third peculiarity, i am part of this interesting change. i am a member of what is called "the nuns." today, when americans are asked their religious affiliation, 20% say none. my subject today is the role of religion in politics, yet i am not a person of faith. concerning this, permit me if you brief, autobiographical digressions. i am the son of a professor of philosophy. he was they son of a lutheran minister. my father may have become a
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philosopher because his father was a minister. as a boy, the future professor will sat outside the study door, listening to the pastor and members of his congregation wrestled with the problem of reconciling race and free will. by the time my father became an adult, after a childhood of two or more church services every sunday, he had seen quite enough of the inside of churches. he also had acquired a philosopher's disposition. hence, i was raised in a secular home, one in which the tabletop often took a reflective turn. -- table talk often took a reflective turn. my father spent years in oxford
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in the 1960s. because of that, i went on to princeton to study political philosophy, intending to follow my father's footsteps into academia. i briefly did, before i turned to, or as my father thought, before i sank to, journalism. for a national review magazine. the real conservatives need not be religious, but could not be hostile to religion. i agree. as did our nation's founders. which brings me to our subject and to make is this which is this -- religion is simple to the american policy, because it
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is not central to american politics. it plays a large role in the nurturing of the virtue that the public and the government presupposes, because of the modernity of america. our nation assigns the politics to public policy. the subsidiary role of not stunting the flourishing of the infrastructure of institutions that have the primary responsibility for nurturing the sociology of virtue. these institutions are of the private sector of life. they are not political institutions. some of our founders, notably benjamin franklin, subscribe to the 18th century ideals. a dr. in that postulated a
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creator who wound up the universe like a clock, and thereafter did not intervene in the human story. it has been said that that god is like a rich aunt in australia. infrequently heard from. explain thehi is seen to nature of the universe. so is the big bang theory, which is not a religion. this hardly counts as a religion. george washington famously would not kneel to pray when his pastor rebuked him for setting a bad example i leaving services before communion, washington mended his ways in his austere manner. he stayed away from church on communion sundays. he acknowledged christianity as
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a benign influence on society, but no ministers were present and no prayers were said when he died a stoic death. even though in his famous farewell address, which to this day is read aloud in congress every year on his birthday, washington had proclaimed that religion and morality are indispensable supports for elliptical prosperity. -- political prosperity. he said, let us indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. reason demandsa quot" that o'reilly t can prevail in exclusion of religion." -- morality can prevail in
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exclusion of religion." jefferson wrote those ringing words in the declaration about the creator who endowed us with rights. jefferson was a placid utilitarians i. he said, if it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find virtue in the comforts and plus in this you feel in virtues exercised. and the lovers it will procure you. james madison, always commonsensical, explains away religion as an innate appetizer. the mind, he said, prefers the idea of a self existing cause to that of an infinite series of cause and effect. from the first -- when the first congress hired a chaplain,
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madison said it was -- even the founders considered it a civic duty, a public service, to be observant unbelievers. for example, two days after jefferson wrote his famous letter endorsing a wall of separation between church and state, he attended, as he and other government officials frequently did, church services in the house of representatives. services were also regularly held in the treasury department. jefferson and other founders made statesmanlike accommodations of the public's strong preference, which then, as now, which was for religion to enjoy ample space in the public square. they understood that christianity, particularly in
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post-reformation, fostered attitudes and aptitudes associated with, and useful to, a popular government. protestantism's emphasis on mediated relationships with god, and individual conscience and choice, subverted conventional hierarchical societies in which deference was expected from the many toward the field. -- few. the american founding was more john locke and jesus. -- than jesus. their regime was one respectful of pre-existing rights. rights that exist before government exists. rights that are natural, in that they are not creations of the regime that exists to secure them.
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in 1786, a year before the constitutional convention, in the preamble for the virginia statute of religious freedom, it says that our civil rights have no dependence on religious opinions any more than our opinions on physics or geometry. since the founding, americans religious enthusiasms have waxed and waned. the durability has confounded jeffersons prediction from 1822, 4 years before his death. he then said that, there is not a young man now living in the united states who will not die a unitarian. in 1908, william jennings bryan, the democrats present gentle presidential nominee said that
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his opponent was unfit to be president, because taft did not leave in the virgin birth. the public yawns and elected taft. there is a fascinating paradox at work in our nation's history. america is the first and most relentlessly modern nation. it is, to the consternation of social scientist, the most religious modern nation. one important reason for this is that we have this entangled religion from public institutions -- disentangled religion from public institutions. pat moynihan, a liberal in good standing, has the assumption
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that as science, rationalism, and the rationality of society advances, the disenchantment of the world proceeds apace, forces will lose their history shaping saliency. the two biggest forces are religion and ethnicity. everyday, in every region, people refute this. religion, and especially religion entangled with reinforcing ethnicity, still drive histoes history. religion is also central to america's public philosophy. at the risk of offending the specialists, let me offer a brief placement of america's founders in the stream of world
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political philosophy. machiavelli begins modern political philosophy. his is a demarcation between the ancients and the moderns. the ancients took their political bearings from their understanding of the best of which people were capable. they sought to and large the likelihood of the emergence of fine and noble leaders. and the fine and noble attributes among them. machiavelli took his bearings from people as they are. he defined the political project as making the best of this flawed material. he knew, almost three centuries later, that nothing straight would ever be made from the crooked timber of humanity. machiavelli was no democrat.
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but, he is among democracies precursors -- democracy's precursors. this is because of the strong and predictable forces rising from a great constant -- the common to allan people in all stations. machiavelli and luther were contemporaries. "the prince" and princ luther's principles were nailed to the church in 1517. luther was one of democracy's most potent precursors. whehe proclaimed, here i stand,i
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cannot do otherwise. he asserted the primacy of the individual and the individual's conscience. this express the logic of his theological radicalism. his determination to found christian faith on the unmediated relation of the faith of a person to god. without in funding to do so -- intending to do so, he celebrated hierarchy. because he is in humanity's past, democracy is in the future. the advent of modernity and political philosophy coincided with a development in a closely related field of philosophy, epistemology -- the philosophy of knowledge. of how we know things. here a important role was played.
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by descartes. he sought certainty beyond revelation and reason. he famously found ground in cognition itself. in his famous formulation, i think, therefore i am. the senses. this would henceforth supply the foundations for whatever certainty human beings can achieve. it was in hobbs's political philosophy that this became decisive. hiss's work came from experience of religious warfare in england. all human beings have one, shared, constant, unshakable similarity. they all fear death.
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on this powerful and simple desire for security, he erected a philosophy o. in exchange for security, people would willingly surrender the presses -- precious sovereignty. life was solitary, poor, nasty, and short. hobbs's philosophy, although it you erected despotism, also contained the seeds of democracy in four ways. first, hobbs said that all human beings are equally under the sway of the strong imperative. second, he said that all human beings can, without the assistance of a priestly claris can understand the things
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that move the world. third, the world of politics is driven by strong and steady passions and interests, to that extent there can be what madison would come to call a quot"a scif politics." knowledge supplied by the senses. is political science deriving its data from the people? fourth, because people do not agree about religious truths, said hobbs, and because they fight over their disagreements, social tranquility is served by regarding religion as voluntary for private judgment. not state-supported and state enforced. in the interest of social peace , the higher aspirations of the
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ancient political philosophers were pushed to the margins of modern politics. those aspirations were considered, at best, unrealistic. at worst, downright dangerous. henceforth, politics would not be a sphere in which human nature is perfected. the political project would not include pointing people toward their highest potential. instead, modern politics would be based on the assumption that people will express and will act upon the strong impulses of their flawed natures. people will be self-interested. to recapitulate, the ancients had asked, what is the highest of which mankind is capable? how can we pursue this in politics?
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hobbs and subsequent modernists asked, what is the worst that can happen in politics? how can we avoid the stackthis? james madison had a political catechism to express modernity. it went like this -- what is the worst political outcome? the answer is tyranny. what form of tyranny can happen in a republic governed by majority rule? tyranny of the majority. how can this be prevented or at least made unlikely? the answer is, by not having majorities that can become tyrannical by being durable. that is, reducing the likelihood of a stable, tyrannical majority.
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how is this to be achieved stackd? i implementing james madison's revolution in democratic theory. madison was probably about five foot three, it was said never had there been such a high ratio of mind to mass. he was princeton's first graduate student, and he turned democratic theory upside down. before madison, the few political theorists who thought democracy was feasible believed it could be feasible only in a small, face to face society. like rousseau's geneva. this was supposedly so because factions were considered the enemy of popular government. small, homogeneous societies
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were thought to be least susceptible to the proliferation of factions. madison's revolutionary theory, some of which is in federalist paper number 10, but the public should not be small, but extensive. expand the scope of the republic in order to expand the number of factions. the more factions, the merrier. saving multiplicity of factions will make it more probable that majorities will be unstable, shifting, short-lived combinations of minority factions. madison related his clear eyed and unsentimental view of human interest in this to the constitution structure of the separation of powers. in federalist 51 he said, ambition must be made to
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counteract ambition. that is, the self interested miss of rival institutions, presidents, legislatures, will check one another. madison famously continued, it may be a reflection on human nature that such divisiveness should be necessary to control the abuses of government, but what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections of human nature? if men were angels, no government would be necessary. if angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls would be necessary. so, we must have a policy of supply by opposite and rival interest that defect that her motives -- affect better motives.
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he did not think we should presuppose that america would prosper without good motives somewhere. such motives are manifestations of good character. our sober founders were not so foolish as to suppose that freedom can thrive, or survives , without nourishment of character. they understood that this must mean that education should include not just school, but all institutions of civil society. explain freedom, and equip citizens with what freedom requires. these virtues include industriousness, self-control, moderation and response ability. -- responsibility. these were considered essential for human happiness. notice that when madison, like
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the founders, generally, spoke of human nature, he was not eating as modern progressives do -- speaking as a modern progressives do. he was speaking of something in constant, evolving. constantly formed and reformed by changing social and other historical forces. when people today speak of nature, they generally speak of flora and fauna. trees and animals and other things not human. the founders spoke of nature as a guide to and a measure of human action. they thought of nature, not as something to be merely manipulated for human convenience, but rather as a source of norms to be discovered. they understood that natural rights could not be asserted, celebrated, and defendant, unless nature, including human
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nature, was regarded as a normative, rather than contingent fact. this was a view buttressed by the teaching of religion. nature is not chaos, but rather a replacement of chaos. an order reflecting the mind and will of the creator. this is the creator who endows us with natural rights that are inevitable, inalienable, and universal. hence, the foundation of democratic equality. and, these natural rights are the foundation of limited government. government he fined by the limited role of securing those rights. -- defined by the limited role of securing those rights. so that individuals may flourish.
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a government bus limited is not in business of imposing its opinions about what happiness or what excellence it's citizens should choose to pursue. having such opinions is the business of other institutions. private and voluntary institutions. especially religious ones. they supply the conditions of liberty. thus, the founders did not consider natural rights -- rather, the founders considered religion reasonable, because it secured national -- natural rights. this may be a cultural contradiction in the dirty. -- modernity. this is of paramount importance,
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because of the seminal importance of the declaration of independence. public philosophy is distilled in the declarations second paragraph. we hold these truths to be self- evident. notice our nation was born with this epistemological assertion. these truths are not only knowable, they are self-evident. meaning, they can be known by any mind not clouded by ignorance or superstition. it is the declaration says, all men are created equal. it will not only in their access to the important political truths, but also in being and out by their creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. declaration comes the most
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important word in the declaration. it is the word secure. to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men. that is, government's primary purpose is to secure pre- existing rights. government does not create rights, it does not dispense them. here, concerning the opening paragraphs of the declaration, is where woodrow wilson and modern progressivism answered the american story. -- enter the american story. he encouraged people not to read what he called "the preface to the constitution." the preface is what everybody else calls the essence of the declaration of independence. listen did so -- wilson did so
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for the same reason that he became the first president to criticize the american founding. he did not criticize it about minor matters. he criticized it root and branch, beginning with the doctrine of natural rights, which he rejected. his criticism began there precisely because that doctrine dictates limited government. he considered that a cramped, unscientific understanding of the new possibilities of politics in the modern age of administration and political science. wilson disparaged the doctrine 4th of ral rights as a quot" july sentiments.". "" wilson's formative years were
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the years in which darwin's theory of evolution seeped from biology into the social sciences. including political science. wilson, the first president of the american political science association, wanted to the political project to encompass making government evolve as human nature evolves. only by doing so could government help human nature progress. this is why progress meant progressing up from the founders and their false understanding of human nature. only government unleashed from the confining doctrine of natural rights could be muscular enough for this project. such a government needed not the founders static constitution, but a living constitution.
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a much more permissive constitution. they needed the old constitution to be construed as granted to the government. powers sufficient for whatever project the government decided to require for progress. what about the framers purpose of writing a constitution to protect people from popular passions? wilson argued that the evolution of society had advanced so far, that such worries were anachronistic. the passions of human beings in society such as the united states had been domesticated. they no longer threatened to be tyrannical, or to otherwise threaten the social order. hence, wilson thought the state,
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emancipated from the founders constitution, should read, and instrumentality for quickening in every suitable way, those collective and individual developments. who was to determine what ways might not be suitable? the answer must be the government itself. wilson was, as progressive tended to be, someone with a strong sense of teleology. history had on folding logic, autonomous trajectory, a proper destination. it was the duty of leaders to discern the destination toward which history was progressing. to make government the unfettered project of this
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progress. progressives tend to exalt the role of farsighted leaders. hence, the role of the american president. the word leader and leaders appeared just 13 times in all of the federalist papers. once is a reference to those who lead the revolution. the other dozen are all in context of disparagement. the founders were wary of the people's attentional for -- potential for rash decisions. they were therefore wary of leaders who would seek to extend power by arousing waves of such passion. wilson was unworried about what worried the founders. he said, " rate passions, when
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they run through a whole population, inevitably find a good spokesman." in 1912, they found wilson. he began building what we have today. the modern, administrative, regulatory state from the supervision of which no corner of life is immune. i will leave it to other, more theologically grounded persons to decide whether, or how, the progressive doctrine of changing human nature could be squared with the teachings of various religions. i will postulate this, a nation such as ours, steeped in and shaped by biblical religions, cannot comfortably accommodate a politics that takes its bearings from the proposition that human nature is a malleable product of social forces. and improving human nature, perhaps to perfection, is a
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proper purpose of politics. i will go further. medical religion is concerned with asserting -- biblical religion is concerned with asserting -- it teaches that individual dignity is linked to individual responsibility and moral fees and see. it should be wary of the consequences of government untethered from the limited purpose of securing natural rights. do not take my word for it. take the word of alexis de tocqueville. two generations after the american founders, two generations after madison identified tyranny of the majority as a distinctive worse
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outcome that democracy could produce. alexis de tocqueville had a different outcome. his warning is famous, and more pertinent now than ever. this despotism that worried him , would, he said, be milder than traditional despotisms. but, " the modern despotism would degrade man without tormenting him. it is absolute, details, regular, farseeing. it would resemble paternal power if, like that, it prepares men for manhood. on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably
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in childhood. it willingly works for their happiness. it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of this happiness. it provides for their security, it sees and secures their needs , the silicates their pleasures , conducts their principal affairs, direct their industries, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances. can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living? so it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare. it can find the action of the will in a smaller space -- confines the action of will in a smaller space. it reduces each nation to be
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nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." each of us can decide to what extent is foreboding has been fulfilled. people of faith might well ask, does the tendency of modern politics to take on more and more tasks, does this tend to mute religions message about that condition? people might worry whether religious institutions can flourish in the dark shade needs the government that presumes to supply every human need and satisfy and anticipate every appetite. to the extent that the politics of modernity has a role, to
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that extent, it threatens society's vitality, prosperity, and happiness. the late irving kristol understood this. my friend described himself as divine.op oriented to the he explained why in these words -- a society needs more than sensible men and women if it is to prosper. it needs the energies of the creative imagination, as expressed in religion and the arts. it is crucial to the lives of all of our citizens, as it is to all human beings at all times, that they encounter a world that possesses a transcendent medium. the world in which the human experience makes sense. nothing is more dehumanizing,
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more certain to generate a crisis, then to experience one's life as a meaningless event in a meaningless world. we may be approaching what is unexplored and parallels social territory. -- perilous social territory. europe is experiencing the widespread waning of the religious impulse. it seems that when a majority of people internalize the big bang theory, and ask, with peggy lee, is that all there is? when people decide that the universe is the result of a cosmic sneeze with no transcendent meaning, when they conclude that life should be filled to overflowing with distractions, comforts and entertainments to as which -- assuage the boredom.
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they might give up the excitements of politics. we know from experience of the bloodsoaked 20th century, the political consequences of this. political nature in the horror of the vacuum. the vacuum of meaning is filled by secular fighting. fascism and communism. fascism -- a meaningful life of racial estimate. communism, adherence to derive meaning from the participation in the drama of history is unfolding destiny. the excruciating political paradox of modernity is this. secularism advanced as part of a
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moral revolution against the bloody history of religious strife. even those of us who are members of the growing "nones", even we wish continued vigor for the rich array of religious institutions of american life. for reasons articulated by the most articulate american- statesman. in 1859, beneath the lowering clouds of war, a successful railroad lawyer from across the river, a lawyer turned presidential nominee concluded
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his speech with the story of an oriental despot who assigned his men the task of devising a proposition to be carved in stone to be forever in the view and forever true. after some weeks, they returned to the death but in the proposition they offered to him was, this too shall pass away. said abraham lincoln, how consoling that proposition is in times of grief, how chasing in times of pride and yet, it is not necessarily true. if we americans cultivate the moral and intellectual hold as prodigiously and assiduously as we cultivate the physical world around us, we perhaps, show long
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indoor. we have long indoor. -- indoor -- endured. this is an measure because of america's link between political institutions and the intermediary institutions for civil society. including and especially religious institutions. they mediate between the citizen and state. the mediating institutions crucial to the flourishing of st. louis and this university, and crucial to both the danforth family. thank you, and thank them for their attention. now i welcome your comments. thank you very much. [applause]>> we are having time for a q&a. the format is we have standing mike's at these two aisles. if you will line up at the mike's. -- mics.
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this gives us about 20 minutes. >> i appear to have answered every question. >> inc. you for coming. -- thank you for coming. one of the arguments for less government involvement is that, if people hold onto their money more, they will be in a position to take care of the poor and oppressed, etc.. can you imagine where else that might come from? do you think it is possible for those able to be taken care of outside of a religious context and political context? is there an >> i am not denying the role,
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which americans of all political persuasions agree on. the state has been supplying a social safety net. there are potential costs to this. i do not just mean financial cost. there is a cost of a crowding out of private initiatives. crowding out of charity. and offloading of these onto the state. it is indicative of something important that the charitable impulse of the united states is stronger than in europe. welfare states are stronger in europe than the american states. the united states has been tardy in not offloading so much social responsibility onto the states. that is all i am saying. there is a cost beyond the
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financial cost of the state that should be thought about. particularly, right now it has become impractical as we look for revenues to fund that, one way to get more revenues is to not have charitable deductions. because of that, it limits the charitable efficacy of the charitable impulse. >> do you think that outside of religious organizations or the government, do you think something else would fill that vacuum? > >> lots of things. mocxis de tocqueville's "de thinks america.,"
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american society is great for sustaining order of voluntary associations. no other country -- when the trains would leave st. joseph, missouri. the second day out, they circle the wagons and wrote a constitution. for the wagon train. they assigned tasks and had committees. it is in our national dna. partly because we believe in governments from the bottom up. >> thank you so much. this was a wonderful lecture. i only hope that conservatism has more intellectual defenders in the coming decade.
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a couple questions. one sort of piggybacks on the previous asker. he said at the beginning that your thesis is that religion is in the place of civil society where we discuss and define what our moral values are. religion should be separated from politics. continuing on, what is the danger of having government and politics continually encroach upon a civil society that is supposed to be separate from that? i really enjoyed everything that you said, my question regarding the logic of your argument is, how do you have this idea that a little religion supports an idea of human rights, with the idea that human beings interpretation of virginity and the bible has changed -- christianity and the bible has changed dramatically? >> christianity has not changed.
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christianity, like everything else, has been used for political purposes. it has piggybacked on political agendas. it seems to me, and essence of biblical religion is human nature. i did not intend to say that a belief in natural rights needs to be grounded in religion. as jefferson said, our rights, no more than geometry and physics, depend on religious beliefs. i do think it is the case that religious people, grounded in the idea that rights are natural, because nature was designed by a creator to express the will of the creator, have a particularly strong foundation for belief. >> thank you so much for being here, it is an honor.
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did you ever consider running for political office? what were the political factors -- determining factor stacs? >> no. i live in maryland, there are only about three republicans in maryland. [applause[laughter]
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>> i neglected to mention prior to the presentation is that we will take some question and answers at the end. it is my pleasure to now introduce to you david corbin, senator." david corbin served as senator byrd's speechwriter. corbin is the editor and author
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of life, work, and rebellion in the southern west virginia mines. he received his phd from the university of maryland. please join me in welcoming david corbin. [applause] >> thank you. thank you to the west virginia state society for hosting this event. thank you to ira for the great title. i saw his book. i've been playing around with my book for a few decades. he was the senate minority leader at the time. ira started in 2008, but he
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came up with the perfect title. i pilfered half his title. appreciate it. i came to work and frankly, i do not know what to expect. i'm from west virginia. as an undergraduate, i was heavily involved in anti-war. i was engaged in some protests and a demonstration for the vietnam war. i started to work for byrd and had no idea how he would respond with. -- respond to it. i was one of those liberal protesters he is always denouncing. one time he called the protests a "human circus." i was working for him.
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there was a story of how a west virginia and my boss were standing up for the crew. i know there are efforts today to portray reagan. -- as a great president. had it not been for byrd, the whole thing would have been a disastrous administration. at any rate, byrd was nothing like i had read about. i learned there is so much misinformation about him. i also learned that he is the most complex person.
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there is no simple analysis to the man. the more i researched, i realized a book about him could go in many directions. there was so much. you could write a book on any aspect. as ira has done, his senate leadership is a book in itself. there are two guiding objectives for the book -- i wanted a book that would place byrd and give him his rightful place in american history. think about it.
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no other person has been involved in so much history on the stage for so long a period as byrd. or 60 years, he was involved in every significant event. this goes back to the cold war, vietnam, the civil rights movement, watergate. the list goes on forever. iran-contra. he was there. he was involved. all it is historical events. make no mistake about it, he is being left out of history. one example of the hundreds of books on nixon and watergate come not one of them mentions byrd's exposing the watergate cover-up. it was recognized at the time
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that byrd was the unsung hero of watergate. he was never given credit for his role in exposing the watergate cover-up. he was also the one who connected the watergate to the white house and the oval office itself. john f. kennedy and the kennedy administration, not one of them talks about the relationship that byrd and kennedy established. once kennedy became president. most of us talk about the byrd opposition to the kennedy primary. once kennedy gets the nomination, byrd goes out campaigning for him. both in north carolina and texas. he goes down to the southern
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baptist in texas and they were serious for lyndon johnson being -- furious for lyndon johnson being on the ticket with hannity, who was catholic. both johnson and john f. kennedy won their victory in the 1960s election with robert byrd's help in north carolina and texas. that put byrd on the national stage. the second objective -- i realize byrd is a legend. an icon in west virginia. outside of washington, d.c., he
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is little loan, much less -- little known, much less respected. that is something i want to correct across the country. i knew history biography would not serve the purpose. there is an effort being made to portray byrd who gave nice speeches about the constitution. there is so much more to the guy. throughout his career, he was a fighter. he had to fight for everything he got. there are some who say he never faced a tough opponent. that is ridiculous. despite opposition, he takes on say that two most powerful machines and he wins every
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election. he wins every election. he gets to the u.s. senate, he climbs the leadership ladder and defeats prominent liberal senators. he selected the senate whip by ousting ted kennedy. he defeated former vice president of the united states, hubert. -- hubert humphrey. it is always a fight for byrd. had to fight for everything he got for west virginia. he had to fight. the trouble is, what direction to take the book in? how to convey these two
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objectives? it came to me while sitting on the senate floor when he delivered his speech. to celebrate his 50 years of service in the senate and the u.s. senate. the floor staff asked us to wait a few minutes since the senators were on their way there. they wanted to hear byrd talk. we discussed these incidents. he kept relating to the presidency. i worked with this president. he worked with jimmy carter. he opposed george bush. it started dawning on me -- the presidents.
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after the speech, it dawned on me -- no other person in american history has had an impact on so many presidential administrations. he has impacted 11 presidents. and that is 1/4 of presidents in american history. think about it. i could achieve my major objectives by putting him on the stage and also try to make the book appeal to people outside of west virginia. but massachusetts may not buy a book on robert byrd, but they would on robert kennedy. -- john f. kennedy. people in california may not buy a book on robert byrd, but they may buy a book on
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presidents. there is written on the back, i hope this book is a must read about robert byrd and the u.s. senate and the american presidency. baker caught what i was trying to convey. another factor the approach i took. the eisenhower chapter. another objective is important insights into each presidential administration.
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west virginia was suffering terribly. west virginia had extreme poverty. a number of other things. there has been talk about the industrial complex. it took me eight years to realize there was an industrial complex. but anyway, the kennedy administration talked about how they worked together. not one book mentions this. a johnson-nixon administrations, think about
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this. just summarize these. you have a liberal democrat, johnson, and the other was a conservative republican, nixon. byrd is friends with both of them and helps them to get legislation enacted. each of them crossed the line. byrd goes after them hard. i have condensed it. you can read the chapter when byrd goes after johnson. byrd certainly helps drive nixon out of office. when you cross a constitutional line, byrd goes after you. it did not matter whether he liked you or not. the memorial service for byrd in west virginia, this is where clinton said there is nothing he would not have done for you,
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meaning the people of west virginia as long as you did not cross the constitutional line. a powerful statement. clinton picked up on byrd perfectly. one of the administration i talked about is the carter administration. when you look at byrd's work with president carter, you realize how much legislation is accomplished in those congresses. it was incredible. carter's failures are basically external. oil and cargo driving up inflation are beyond carter's control. three mile island. but what carter and byrd did -- carter was a difficult person, but they were able to bring together.
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it was a truly successful administration legislatively. two cabinets were formed. the most important environmental laws we have today came out of the carter administration. carter enacted an energy program, which if reagan had not wiped out come would have saved us the problems you are having today. the synthetic fuels corporation . two million by 1995, but reagan wiped it out. ira is correct to talk about the congress of the last great senate. byrd's first two terms as
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senate majority leader, it was byrd who made it happen. byrd the last great senator. i thank ira for the title. thank you. [applause] >> at this time we will take a couple of questions. maybe. [laughter] >> tell me, dave, what president did you enjoy writing about the most that senator byrd served with? >> kennedy. not even a close question. my two favorite people in history are robert byrd and john f. kennedy. i have always had an affection for kennedy. everybody know about the west virginia primary?
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it showed the country that a catholic could carry west virginia and could carry the nation. kennedy blanketed the state. do not believe the crap that kennedy bought the election. he went all over the state campaigning. i rode my bike up. i remember leaving my bike against a parking meter. after the speech, i went to get my bike. my bike was parked in the limousine where he was parked. i started asking questions. he looks at me and ask, where is nitro? he goes, nitro? they were in topcoats.
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i point, that way. kennedy smiles. reached down and grabbed my hrubbed my head. anyway, i have always had an affection for kennedy. byrd opposed kennedy in the 1960s primary. that is not where they established a relationship. when byrd was serving as a senator, there was a reference to the partnership. it was not until i wrote this chapter that i realized how close they were together. you will see it in the chapter, hopefully. >> i was struck by this quote by senator baker on the back on
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your book of how senator byrd and he made an agreement to work together to make the senate operate efficiently. it was an agreement they never broke. how is that possible? >> they kept each other informed of everything they were doing. they would go against each other. they fought on a couple issues. it is not that they do not fight or have differences. but they did keep each other informed. bob dole replaced howard baker as a speaker. dole takes over baker as leader. but they kept baker informed. they just work together and kept each other in touch of what the other was great to do.
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they still opposed each other at times. like the panama canal treaty. they kept no secrets. >> i always like to talk about byrd and baker. they really did epitomize the great senate and the way things worked at that time. the first two chapters of my book are entitled "the grind" and "the natural." he was a most natural politician you could come across. if senators voted based on secret ballot, baker would have won. they worked well together. they had a remarkable capacity for doing that. there is one incident in my book where i describe senator
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byrd. it is such an unusual act, it hhe gets the vice president in the chair and by a script that byrd has written, start ruling tamendments out of order in a way that is quite contrary to the way the senate work. there is a rebellion on the senate floor. everyone is going crazy ant what robert byrd is doing even though they hate filibusters. one thing that was very striking, byrd made a surprise. he had told howard baker iand all of the republicans, he had all of the leaders aware of exactly what he was going to do. it was a very impressive thing. on the back of my book is a funny story for those who like book stories. authors always like that. my publishers did a great job
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on the book. they sent me this cover and said everyone loves it. nobody i have shown it to loves it. the reason is because it was a picture of two senators walking into a room with their backs to you. it was byrd and baker in the transition in the 1980s. it is a very evocative picture, but it would have been a terrible cover. it is on the back cover of my book. they did really treat each other with extraordinary openness basically. >> ira, your book -- when he competed for majority leader? >> it is a great incident. and of david is aware of it as well.
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senator byrd basically had all of the votes lined up to be majority leader. senator humphrey was a beloved figure among democrats. he had an important habit of -- unfortunate habit of always reaching for the next rung. he decided to stay in the challenge against robert byrd on the last day. he abruptly pulled out when he realized he could not win. robert byrd understood that a lot of senators loved humphrey.
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he gave him that leadership and over humphrey in some way. it was a very good start. >> do think there will be a culture change in the senate? one of the people who came in and spoke briefly talk about someone who was blind and had an eye seeing dog. they wanted to testify on the senate floor. the dog had never been on the senate floor before. senator byrd was the only person who objected. he wanted to have security on a dog entering the senate floor. for it.no precedent that was retold to me.
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this person described this with a certain amount of, i could not believe he would do that. "the senate is so self important." i view that as a body being based on precedents. >> they would not let the staffer do it. they would not allow computers on the floor. they maintain the senate rules. the decorum of the senate. >> i always say that things change. since the senate i wrote about. starting with the fact that the senate is televised. when i started in the senate, it was not televised. if senators and the staff wanted to know what was going on in the senate, you wandered over to the senate.
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senators would go over and go to the committees in the morning and have lunch and then they wandered over to the senate. they hung out. they were on the floor or in the cloak room. there was a huge amount of social interaction, which is lacking now as we know. it is lacking for about 10 reasons. one is the technology and the other is the demand and fundraising. they spend so much time raising money and the do not have time to spend together. everything is different. nothing about the senate is better other than the influx of women. there was one woman in the senate that i wrote about. the fact that we have 20 now, which is a record, that makes a big difference. on the other hand, the hyper partisan senate is interesting.
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a number of people have said over time, boy, the senators now must not like your book. they're fine with the book. they do not think much of the senate. [laughter] my sympathy extends to a certain point. they have the power to change it. it does not have to be the way that it is. >> i want to go back to a point that he made. the humprrerey thing. what they leave out, it was a tough race. roll call was predicting humphrey would beat him.
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they gave the vote count and everything else. kennedy started working for five years to make sure byrd never becomes majority leader. he interviews a number of people. he does not want to take byrd onto himself. he is looking for a person to take on. a lot of people are predicting humphrey's victory. he had tremendous support. that was one labor had clout. it was not a given election for byrd. the great thing is byrd's election to senate majority leader five months later, humphrey goes on the floor and talks about what a great majority leader byrd is.
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this guy is great. six months later, ted kennedy comes out and says the same thing. robert byrd is the best majority leader in the senate. that would include the and in johnsoni think it all began with the -- lyndon johnson. kennedy speech. he got done the environmental laws. >> i have a question for both of you getting back to the hyper partisanship of the senate now. this is why we speculate a little bit. do not let that stop you. how did you think senator byrd would respond now to the idea of changing the senate rules, especially around the use of
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the filibuster? >> i think it is clear that senator byrd would favor certain changes of the rules. he favored certain changes of the rules and got them done to shorten the amount of time of the filibusters. at the time he wanted to eliminate idea of filibustering motions. the thing that i really admire about senator byrd is that he loved the senate, but he was not blind to the problems. so i think senator byrd would be among those who would come forward to find ways to try to put the filibuster back in the box so that you had -- so that a filibuster would be rare. it might people to come to the floor instead of indicating they will go to filibuster.
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i also think senator byrd would be very angry at the way nominations are handled now. if you look at the numbers, they are quite startling. during the presidency of jimmy carter to george w. bush, 79- 93% of the residential nominees were confirmed. -- of the president's nominees were confirmed. under president obama's administration, a discipline not right for the senate to just on them. but that has become part of the routine obstructure. i do not think robert byrd would have put up with that. that is a change. -- that should be changed.
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there is a story that illustrates so much of what david said about byrd being a complex figure. senator byrd was extremely complex. he is a very proud man. he was very sure and how he wanted to be treated. he was sensitive about his prerogatives. he had this relationship with carter. they worked together on a lot of things. that relationship was torn the night of the hostage rescue mission. senator byrd was in the white house that night at the oval office of carter. carter outlined the idea of the mission without telling byrd. that was such a betrayal, it was simply a horrible mistake
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by carter to have not told senator byrd, who had done so much for him. that tore the relationship. but that was justifiable. >> byrd worked so hard for carter and for carter not to tell him, you're absolutely right. he went through 12 different military scenarios, and that was one. the next day he was furious internally. but his public persona, he supported the president in this time of crisis. he appeared cool, but people knew underneath he was livid about it. >> the misinformation about the national state, give us one --
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national stage. give us one example where senator byrd's role was underachieved or underreported or misunderstood by america. >> i can give you a couple actually. one is personality wise. there is a race issue. this is common knowledge. if you take the facts out of context -- he did vote against thurgood marshall. he did not want a liberal activist on the u.s. supreme court. not because he is liberal. because he is activist. the constitution comes first.
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he wants strict interpreters who would adhere to the law. he voted against thurgood marshall. true. he did not want a liberal activists. bork. against boent against the race issues, too. provided knows the poll tax -- everybody knows the poll tax. he voted against the civil rights bill. he was opposed to the ways it was being done.
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the congress was going to step in and say you cannot use the poll tax. byrd said do it right. eventually it was rejected. byrd voted for it. two years later, congress comes back with a constitutional amendment and byrd voted for it. he voted for it once they did it right with a constitutional amendment. he filibustered, it is true. there was a 14 hour filibuster. not one racial word in the whole thing. read through the thing.
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"let's make this thing right and i can support it." racist. read throughout the filibuster. there is not one racial thing. the whole thing is basically constitutional law. he was disagreeing with the way it was being done. this was about literacy tests. here he is talking abouthe opposed them on that measure. it proposes two different ways
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to do this constitutionally. that is what is left out. congress could do that. and that would be done. he voted against that bill because of the constitutional concerns. he voted for the 1960 civil rights bill. they have been enacted. he comes to the senate in 1959. 19 offices in the congress are integrated. only 19 are integrated and byrd is one of the 19.
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he integrated the police force. he integrated the police force. "how can it because sky a racist?"call this guy a way,s why he voted that because of the issues.
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i can go on with example afterif you pull things out of conservative. the majority issues, that's why he voted that way, not because never changed, the issues changed. the very first thing when he's elected to congress, the very first thing he does is propose -- how does that answer your question? >> a history lesson. >> the point i was trying to record, i can go on forever, but book, in the obama chapter, president obama. no, he's always been consistent on this. >> any other questions? all right. well, thank you both so much for[applause] national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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>> here is what is coming up on christmas day. a look at women in leadership position. several holiday celebrations from around washington, d.c. we looked at the biggest foreign policy events of the year. >> i was handing out leaflets for robert kennedy. i broke with the democratic party and went to work for john lindsay. i went down to the liberal party. i was handing out leaflets on a
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street corner in new york. and a woman thought it was acucute. she asked me why and i made an early case for lindsey and i made the case against his opponent. she handed me a box of pastry. i took a back to headquarters. there were all these doughnuts and a lot of $10 bills. one of my early lessons in politics and i was told you can keep the money. >> david axelrod on his life in journalism and politics. fall by the all women delegation of new hampshire. then growing up in the white house. tonight on c-span.
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>> there was a forum on women in leadership. hilda solis spoke about her career and serving in the obama administration. >> good morning. they come from los angeles and cleveland and baltimore. poor and white. each of them have one thing in common. they are all successful. each rose to the top of their field in the arts or politics or sports. we will talk to them about how
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they did, what kind of advice they have for younger people. we have one of the country's most respected tv journalist, an opera star, the empress woman serving in the u.s. congress, and the most decorated figure skater in u.s. history. i want to welcome the people here in the auditorium in downtown washington, d.c., and many people watching us online. we encourage the people to send in your comments and we will try to incorporate them into the discussion today. @women in 2012. joining me is one of the ranking woman and the publisher of "the
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washington post.' hilda solis.lcome held a sola she is the u.s. labor secretary . she was the first hispanic woman and a presidential cabinet. she was a member of congress from california. she has done -- this first woman to receive the john f. kennedy profile in courage award. hilda was the first latina elected to the state senate from california. you have such a compelling personal story. your father ran the teamsters union and is from mexico and your mother is from nicaragua.
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i am also the daughter of immigrants. my parents came from ireland and i'm the third of seven children. i'm curious to hear how your personal story got you to the white house. [laughter] >> thank you for having me. this is a wonderful opportunity. i am reminded of what happened a few years ago. this is were the work was done. workers got together early in the morning on different shifts. those kinds of things are familiar to me. our parents were always attending to us and making sure we could be independent and responsible, and always very mindful of work and what that
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meant, no matter what kind of work it is. always to provide respect and dignity to everybody. i grew up with five sisters and two brothers. talk about feminism. women having their voices heard. i always felt supported by my mother and my father. my father would often challenge me in a way that sometimes is not often spoken about. >> what did he say? >> he would challenge us and say, giving your best. whenever you do, give it your best. not everybody may understand or know what you have to offer. keep your head up high and respect others and that will
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come back to you. >> how important is that encouragement? >> absolutely important. i would not be doing what i'm doing had it not been for someone early in my life who challenged me and said, you are going to be leaving high school. what are your plans? this was a high school counselor who was our career counselor and ask me, you are going to get ready to go to college. i said, how could you say that? i did not have the means to do that. my parents do not have money to send me to school. i was on the track to be a secretary. another counselor told me that
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my mother and i that i was not college material and that i should lower my site and stay a secretary. 30 years later, i can say my title is secretary of labor. [laughter] >> this is critical. you tell people to have high aims. >> i have tried to inspire individuals in my work environment or on the job. after i went on to college, the campus asked me to be a recruiter for them. i went back to my high school and got a record number of people to apply to the university. the power and the emotion, the
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fire in the belly is there in us. for people that did not have role models, they need to be inspired. i did not always get it from women. find it in other places, all that helps. that is the kind of energy that was given to me. "i'm going to take a risk. i may not be perfect at it." >> do you work all the time? >> i am in mourning person -- morning person. >> i could be on the west coast
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and i am not at 5:00 a.m. and people on the west coast would say i'm crazy. i will lose the thought so why do wit. i am an early riser. that was something that was instilled in us. >> is 5:00 a.m. kind of typical? >> yes. >> how late did you work? >> i tried to get in at a decent hour. as a pastime, people do not think that we do this but i like to cook. i try to eat healthy. i will do cooking of vegetables and light entrees.
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something i enjoy is making home cooked pinto beans. when you brought in a household where that is pretty much all you need, but now it is like a luxury. it is what you put in, the kinds of spices. it is healthy for you. >> you ran the labor department. what is the biggest work ethic for women today? >> breaking through the glass ceiling. we have about 57% of diversity in my kitchen cabinet at the dol. that is hard work. the top person is projected
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that that is something our goal will be. you have to be able to work with individuals that aspire to the same goals. i am asking them not to pull out binders but to get good people. do we have good people available? it's not like we have to invent something. there are people ready to surf. -- there are people ready to serve. women have to help women out. >> 47% of the workforce are female. 14% hold executive office jobs. this is the glass ceiling you were talking about.
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there is a special place in hell for women that do not help other women, said madeleine albright. >> what i learned from a great women leaders like nancy pelosi , very much open and wanting to share. women who feel secure about themselves can give support to other women. that is an important element. to allow for new ideas to emerge. great ideas come from other women that are doing some great things. if they are doing well, they are going to make me look good. that is the kind of spirit i
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like to see. >> are the small things women can do? is it talking about the pressures? >> it is more than just talking. if you are engaged in a work environment together, it is allowing for somebody to take on any project or allowing somebody to flush out ideas and put them in place and then learn from that. not everything is going to be perfect. "it is ok. we are going to work on getting a better." that is when you learn about how to perfect what you want to do. that happens in any environment. we need to talk about it more
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directly. those discussions are always tapered down for women. >> what you wish you knew when you work 17 and you said keep striving. it is not about how many times you get knocked down. it is what you do after you get up that really matters. if you could talk about one time he did get knocked down. >> i was in high school being told i wasn't capable or ready to go to college. that's just got hilda angry. i said, how can i turn this around? so i worked even harder to make sure that i could do well and to
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advance myself. that was helped in part by meeting other mentors. that is something you are not always taught. especially people from my background. there is no one helping you to navigate. >> it sounds like president obama should get you angry. we have time for a couple of questions for the secretary. there are some roving microphones. you often hear the strive to the top is it tougher when you're competing to get there and it is kind of brutal. .t's pretty relaxed at the top are the knives still out/
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>> you are always mindful of one you are doing and making sure that you were doing everything appropriate and that you surround yourself with people that are not just all going to be happy people and say yes, yes, yes, everything is great. i want to know what the other side of the argument is and to make the best decisions. sometimes i have gone against what my advisers have told me to do and they cannot better. >> how you internalize making a mistake that is public? >> do not let it stick. >> how do you do that?
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that is such a talent. >> it is hard. you hear that you can be cold and you can be teflon. it isn't easy. you try to learn from your mistakes and try to avoid anything coming back that looks similar to that. for young people, if you want to change your career and thinking you have to make a big jump, be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can. you wring it out. let it fall out. then you'll be stronger and ready to clean up. that is an analogy that i think
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about. you can soak things up. it can bury you. you are not going to be effective. so wring it out. >> the bad things are? onmaybe you're dwelling something. >> not obsessing on a mistake. >> and projecting a good image of yourself. >> do you have any tricks about staying confidence? >> i believe strongly in fa ith. >> religious faiths? >> in people.
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in comes in many forms. i just came from queens, new york, hurricane victims. they do not have any jobs. they are out there helping their neighbors. they want to do something for their community. i was watching that and compelled to say, if these people are willing to risk things -- they lost their homes -- what can i do to help them? >> thank you. john michaelson. proposing a new idea and the possibility